ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Film Review: Dances with Wolves

Updated on September 6, 2016
Film Frenzy profile image

Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.

Background

In 1990, Kevin Costner released Dances with Wolves, based on the 1988 novel of the same name by Michael Blake. Starring Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A Grant, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Tantoo Cardinal, Jimmy Herman, Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse and Michael Spears, the film grossed $424.2 million at the box office. Nominated for multiple awards, including the Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Art Direction - Set Decoration, and Best Costume Design, the Golden Globe Awards for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, and Best Original Score - Motion Picture, the Berlin International Film Festival Golden Berlin Bear, the Cesar Award for Best Foreign Film, and the David di Donatello Awards for Best Foreign Actor and Best Foreign Film, the film won numerous other awards, such as the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score, the Golden Globe Awards for Best Director - Motion Picture, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, and Best Drama - Motion Picture, and the Jupiter Awards for Best International Actor, Best International Film, and Best International Director.

Synopsis

After United States Army Lieutenant John Dunbar is positioned in a fort on the expanding western frontier, he ends up being the only person there. While waiting for reinforcements, he befriends a wild wolf and makes contact with a neighboring Sioux tribe. They nickname him Dances With Wolves because of his relationship with said wolf.

Review

Though a long film that makes three hours feel like six, Dances with Wolves is still a pretty good film as it balances both views of Native Americans, showing that they were neither the completely peace loving ideal group that some media portray them nor the hyper violent murderous group that others do. Rather, it presents the idea that they are their own people that have their own culture with varying differences between the tribes. Further, said tribes don’t always see eye to eye. It shows that some, like the Sioux may be somewhat aggressive, but their land is being encroached on and their buffalo are being wiped out. It makes sense that they’d be cautious, but on the other hand, there’s the Pawnee who are portrayed in the opposite manner, namely that they’re the kind to shoot first and ask questions never.

The film also goes further than just a balanced portrayal of the Native Americans in that it presents just how brutal the Civil War was. It shows that the North wasn’t free of its cruel and barbarous acts and neither was the South, even going so far as to depict some Union soldiers as dirty cowards. The conditions are also shown in the beginning (the fact that Dunbar’s foot was slated to be amputated, but he was left wide awake and in pain while the doctors went for a pick me up), which are what drive him to try and commit suicide, albeit unsuccessfully.

The film is not without its problems though. While it quite deserved its award for Best Cinematography, seeing as it has beautiful shots in nearly every scene, those shots tend to linger and overstay their welcome. This has been noted before in different films as giving the viewer sensory overload, but also serves to make the pacing of the film incredibly slow. Though it’s three hours, or four if watching the extended edition, it feels like at least six are passing.

There’s also the accusations that the film employs a White Savior Plot, where Dunbar becomes the Sioux tribe’s protector after becoming one of them. While those elements are present in the film, it seems to balance that by giving good characterization to the major Native American characters. Further, when the Sioux were off fighting the Pawnee, of course Dunbar would be the only one to be able to organize the remaining people to fight off the raiding party because he’s the only one there with the knowhow to do so and was tasked with it. It seems to suggest that rather than Dunbar becoming one of them and thus their protector that the film more portrays Dunbar as becoming one of them and really understanding them and the cultural differences between the Native Americans and the White Man. What's more, title card at the end, which states that the Sioux were forced to surrender to the US Government, doesn’t suggest that the tribe would have been able to push the US back. After all, the US government was growing in power and able to have the advantage over the tribe. That makes everything harder.

3 stars for Dances with Wolves

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)